OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Enrollment hits 3.3 million

About 3.3 million people have selected a healthcare plan under ObamaCare, Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Wednesday. More than 1.1 million people enrolled in January, on top of the 2.2 million who selected plans from October through December.

January surpasses December as the month with the most enrollments, when a push by the administration and the first open enrollment deadline at the end of the year resulted in more than 1 million people signing up. Few people predicted January would be a banner month for enrollments, so Friday’s announcement indicates there is active demand for coverage, and that the administration’s and insurers' efforts to get the word out about the law are gaining momentum.

That’s encouraging news for the Obama administration, as some experts had predicted a fall-off in enrollments for January. A flood of last-minute sign-ups is also expected in March, when open enrollment ends for 2014 and the penalty associated with the individual mandate set in. Read about the numbers at The Hill's Healthwatch blog.

Newsflash: The Senate approved a clean debt hike after Republican Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump’s isolation grows Ellison: Trump has 'level of sympathy' for neo-Nazis, white supremacists Trump touts endorsement of second-place finisher in Alabama primary MORE (R-Ky.) and his top lieutenant voted "yes." Read about the vote at The Hill's On the Money blog.

Blow to Medicare providers: The Senate also sent legislation to the White House that would repeal a $6 billion cut to military pensions by extending the sequester on Medicare spending by an additional year, to 2024.

Senate Democrats said they weren’t entirely happy with the extension of the Medicare spending caps, but they didn’t raise objections.

“You don’t always get what you want,” Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingSen. King: If Trump fires Mueller, Congress would pass veto-proof special prosecutor statute Senate heading for late night ahead of ObamaCare repeal showdown Overnight Healthcare: Four GOP senators threaten to block 'skinny' repeal | Healthcare groups blast skinny repeal | GOP single-payer amendment fails in Senate MORE (I-Maine), who caucuses with the Democrats, told The Hill. “It’s pretty hard to oppose it since it’s one of the things we proposed a month ago on unemployment."

Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe five kinds of Republicans who could primary Trump Overnight Tech: Senate confirms two FCC commissioners | Dems want more time on net neutrality | Tech groups push White House on 'startup visa' Senate confirms two new FCC commissioners MORE (D-Fla.) had initially expressed opposition to extending the Medicare sequester caps, but he said Wednesday he could support it because the change doesn’t hit the budget until 2024.

“We’ll get it fixed,” Nelson told The Hill. “It’s all this funny money.” The Hill's Defcon Hill blog has more on the vote.

Five-year low: The percentage of uninsured people in the United States has fallen to a five-year low, according to a Gallup survey released on Wednesday. About 16 percent of adults are uninsured, according to the report. That’s down from the multi-year high of 18 percent in 2013, and from 17.1 in the previous survey quarter.

The uninsured rate is on pace to end the first quarter at its lowest point since President Obama came into office. The administration says more than 3 million people have selected a plan through the federal and state healthcare exchanges since Oct. 1. Millions more have obtained coverage under the law’s Medicaid expansion.

The survey is welcome news to the White House, which has received questions about whether the number of U.S. uninsured will actually go down in ObamaCare's first year given the number of canceled health policies. Read more at Healthwatch.

Softer pot policy: More than a dozen House lawmakers are urging President Obama to soften the federal government’s penalties for marijuana use. In a letter on Wednesday, they ask Obama to direct Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderDOJ warrant of Trump resistance site triggers alarm Venture capital firm sues ex-Uber CEO for fraud Justice Dept. to meet with journalism group on subpoena guidelines MORE to scale back how the government punishes people for using the drug.

“We request that you instruct Attorney General Holder to delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way, at the very least eliminating it from Schedule I or II. Furthermore, one would hope that your Administration officials publicly reflect your views on this matter,” the letter says.

Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerDems push for tough GMO labeling rule 5 things members of Congress are doing over August recess Lawmakers target horse meat trade MORE (D-Ore.), who spearheaded the letter, has been an outspoken proponent of legalizing marijuana. As a state legislator in 1973, he sponsored a bill that became law removing any criminal penalties for possession of pot.

Read more from The Hill's Briefing Room blog.

State by state

Quinn proposes $5.2B Medicaid overhaul

Maine GOP: Medicaid expansion backer has conflict

Wyoming House rejects Medicaid bills

States meld Medicare and Medicaid

Reading list

The problem with breast-cancer screenings

FDA wants more info on female libido pill

Congress raises concerns about HHS handling of RAC program

What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Abortion rights group fights Obama nominee

AFP hits Landrieu for ObamaCare support

NRCC uses CBO report to ding Sink's 'loyalty'

Dem bill lets drug czar study effects of making pot legal